The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas series consists of more than 900 images taken by Lee in 1949 in Corpus Christi, San Angelo, San Antonio, and El Paso. The images represent a unique visual record for that period. Among the many subjects documented are families, children, schools, churches, housing, migrant workers, professions, trades and vocations, businesses, community organizations, health and homecare, politics, and leisure activities.
The primary objective of the project was to make the images more accessible. Digitization of the negatives and the creation of an online repository resulted from the joint efforts of staff at the center and also the Digital Library Services Division of the University of Texas Libraries. The project was funded by a 2004 UTOPIA grant from the UT President’s Office. UTOPIA was President Larry Faulkner’s initiative to digitize the University’s resources and share them with the public.
In 2007, the Center’s book Russell Lee Photographs: Images from the Russell Lee Photograph Collection at the Center for American History was published by UT Press. Linda Peterson, the center’s Photographs Archivist selected and arranged the photographs for the book. This is the first book to show the full range and quality of Lee’s entire body of work beyond the photography he did for the Farm Security Administration.